After only four months at the head of Keolis, the supervisory board of the public transport operator, a 70% subsidiary of SNCF, has dismissed his boss Patrick Jeantet because of "significant strategic differences" , said said the company on Tuesday.
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"A recruitment process will be initiated without delay to appoint a new chairman of the executive board" in place of Patrick Jeantet, who took office in early February, Keolis said in a statement. Patrick Jeantet, 60, replaced Jean-Pierre Farandou, who managed Keolis for seven years before becoming head of the SNCF. This engineer, who has led SNCF Réseau since 2016, was responsible for "achieving the strategic ambitions of business development and improving profitability" of the company.
Keolis did not specify the reasons for this dismissal, explaining that the two shareholders - SNCF (70%) and Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (30%) - had requested an exceptional meeting of the supervisory board: this body responsible for overseeing the management of the executive board was to expressly “deliberate on the dismissal of Patrick Jeantet” , the chairman of the executive board. According to sources interviewed by AFP, Patrick Jeantet wanted to encourage Keolis' external growth, when the supervisory board preferred to stick to the "Perfeco" program aimed at consolidating the existing while strengthening economic performance. In addition, "there has never been a real constructive dialogue with the supervisory board" , which particularly offended Quebec shareholders, we added. "There was a feeling of strong passage from Patrick Jeantet" .
“Several hundred million euros” loss
Keolis achieved in 2019 a turnover of almost 6.6 billion euros - out of 35 billion for the whole of the SNCF -, of which 53% abroad. But the year ended with a net loss of 72 million euros in 2019, weighed down by the exit of the very loss-making operator of VTC LeCab, restructuring in the United States and losses in Germany. The year 2020 promises to be particularly delicate, as the coronavirus crisis has seriously damaged the cash desks of transport operators. Patrick Jeantet had said in April expect to lose "several hundred million euros" .
Present in sixteen countries, Keolis presents itself as the world leader in automatic metro and tramways. In France, it operates the networks of Bordeaux, Lille, Lyon, Montluçon and Rennes, as well as the regional rail network in Wales, the Hyderabad automatic metro (India), the largest tram network in the world in Melbourne ( Australia) or the new Ottawa tram. It is one of the spearheads of SNCF internationally. The interim will be provided by a group of four executives of the company, under the direction of the financial director Kathleen Wantz-O'Rourke, according to the press release.